Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

How Much Income Can A Person Earn If He Draws Social Security Disability?

Social Security disability has an income limit of sorts. If a person is drawing Social Security disability they should be concerned about their work activity and what it could suggest. When a person is drawing Social Security disability benefits they are not precluded from work activity, but working while on disability has the potential to affect eligibility for monthly disability benefits.

The controlling amount of income that affects disability eligibility most often is substantial gainful activity or SGA, as it is more commonly known. Each year Social Security determines a monthly amount of gross earnings it considers to be self-supporting. If a disability beneficiary earns above the SGA monthly amount their benefit may be suspended or even terminated.

A disability beneficiary is entitled to nine trial months in a five-year period beginning with the first month they have monthly earnings over the trial work limit (yes, there is another earnings limit that affects disability entitlement). The trial work month earnings limit is always less than the SGA limit.

While an individual has the option of having monthly earnings over the SGA limit during the trial work period, trial work months can be exhausted even if the person's earnings are under SGA, if they are at the trial work month limit or more.

Trial work months can be performed anytime during the five period and do not have to be consecutive. Once a person has used their trial work months, they have to stay below the SGA limit in order to avoid work suspensions that could cause them to be overpaid at the very least. Overpayments occur because any month a person earns SGA or more, they are not entitled to be paid for that month. Additionally, if a person performs SGA-level work activity consistently, month after month, it could lead to an eventual termination of disability benefits.

Related: What should you do when a social security disability or ssi overpayment occurs?

After all, the definition of Social Security disability is any medically determinable mental or physical impairment that has prevented a person from performing SGA for twelve months, is expected to prevent the performance of SGA for twelve months, or is expected to end in death. It would stand to reason that consistent performance of work activity at the SGA earnings level could lead to a finding of "medical improvement" for a Social Security disability beneficiary.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Will the income of a Spouse Affect My Disability Benefits?
How Much Income Can A Person Earn If He Draws Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability - What is considered earned income versus unearned income according to the SSA?
How important is reporting income for those who currently receive disability benefits?
How much can I get in Social Security Disability Income?
What Determines Social Security Disability Income?
Is there an income limit to be under when you apply for disability?
Social Security back pay and temporary state disability benefits

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria